June 9: Beginning SNA and Block Group Planning

A few days ago, we ran a pilot SNA (Social Network Analysis) survey in the community, testing it on adult males so as not to contaminate our pool of eventual adult female participants. The interviews ran between ten and twenty minutes, and we spent a lot of time with pilot interviewees rewording the questions and learning what needs to be emphasized while we are running the actual interviews. We also worked with Dr. Aday late into the evening over Skype to gain a deeper understanding of the purpose of this round of SNA and clarify and reshape the questions to foster answers with that in mind. The questions focus on communication of health and flooding issues within the community. We want to know who community members discuss these issues with and learn more about these relationships (including where, how often, and about what specifically they speak with one another) to better understand the organic structures and patterns of communication that exist within Esfuerzo.

We also began to plan for a block group meeting tomorrow. Thus far, we have spent time determining the best times and locations for the meetings, distributing invitations, and having conversations with individuals about their priorities for the meetings. A few of the main things that we have to talk about (order as of yet undecided) are:

1) What to do with the boat – The overwhelming consensus is that the boat did not work as a means for crossing the stream during floods and that we should sell it and use the money for something else. We will see if there is true consensus in the setting of block meetings, and if so, discuss ideas for alternative solutions.

2) Engineers Without Borders – We want to let the community know where this project stands; our proposal was accepted but that we are still waiting on a group of engineers to adopt it, and we want to make clear that this may or may not happen. However, after looking over the comments made by the EWB reviewers, we think that it is important that the community be ready in case an EWB team does decide to come. Per the reviewer comments, it would be useful if they had a government liaison (getting the local government involved might not be feasible, but it would be incredible if we could), ideas and some consensus as to what they think the engineers should do (bridge, community center, etc.), someone coordinating labor and food for the workers, and basically a team ready to spring into action should the project be adopted. The reason for all of this preparation would be to make this project as attractive as possible for any group of engineers that comes down to do an assessment; seeing that the community is unified and organized and ready to do whatever they can to help might make the difference in whether an EWB group decides to take on the project. Additionally, unity and organization are crucial for the success of the project if it is adopted, and of course are valuable tools in their own right for developing community capacity.

3) Community Center – This also correlates with the EWB work as several reviewers seemed to like the idea of a community center as a feasible project for the engineers and as something that the community would be able to maintain. It might help with mitigating the effects of the flooding, which was the community need centrally identified in our application, depending on the use it is put to (providing a place for people affected by the flooding to store things, etc). However, this is also the kind of structure that the community would be able to build itself, which could be an exercise in organizing together for a common goal. If an EWB group does pick up a project, it might have a greater impact on quality of life if it were something that might more directly alleviate flooding. Deciding how to move forward with plans that may or may not be adopted by EWB is the next step.


  1. I noticed in the course of my interviews in Tanzania that the questionnaire definitely does need to be tested. As I went through my interviews I learned how to clarify questions in a standardized way though. That’s the trickiness of interview questionnaires!